Part I | Photography and the Night Sky
It was a sunny late afternoon in Ypsilanti, Michigan, when Laura and I had the pleasure of speaking to one another. Dandelion buds whispered through the bright blue sky, floating majestically as if they followed our conversation. Laura’s Photographs speak microscopic singularities into existence not seen by the human eye. Vivid ceruleans, denims with little backwashes of green highlight much of Laura’s work. In the Upper Peninsula sits a quaint cottage where Laura's creativity blossoms—it transcends her four walls to the wilderness outside. The lake that sits within her photographs encapsulates midwestern beauty and the art of silence. It’s what piques her creativity—all she needs is a camera, the woods, or even the stars in the sky.
Part II | The Silence of Nature
Laura’s camera lightly shutters amidst the silence of nature. Behind her collection of photographs is Laura’s collection of cameras, the captors of her muse, each with their own purpose. The Nikon D750 is one of her favorites. Laura previously took it on hikes with her son, but found its heaviness impractical and the clicks too loud — but it is perfect for capturing the limelight of a midnight sky or the refracted light onto a Great Lake. In this world, who knew that one of Laura’s favorite places would be Michigan. It is banal, yet unassumingly enchanting. In these pockets of peace hidden away in the mitten of the Upper Peninsula are works of art not able to be seen by the naked eye. Long exposure captures the world around Laura as it explodes into glowing colors, like stars swirling through the night sky, just as in Starry Night. Cameras, like the eyes of God, are able to capture the Milky Way over a four-hour time period. Nothing is left to chance when Laura adjusts the aperture to let the light in such a way that it glows and reflects off one's pupils in a tango—she sucks the sky into her lens so that a midwestern sky sits in your living room. It's magic, it’s tranquil, it’s art.
Part III | Creative Process
Laura Higel describes her art through a comparison: emotion versus aesthetic. “Aesthetic definitely has a feeling. Not always an emotion, but aesthetic is like a gut.” It’s a connection one has with the physicalities of one of Laura’s pieces. It then elicits a direct emotion. The philosophical component of art, the feeling of an almighty ‘knowing’ when looking at a piece, pulls you in with your eyes and keeps your heart there. Laura’s creative process is much like this: she finds something—a tree, a bird, or the swallow and it stops Laura in her tracks and she thinks, “do I want to grab this with a camera, or appreciate it?” Knowing when to admire or when to capture a photo, and many people with it. She described this with such care, such passion, and such yearning to go out with her tripod, a bottle of water, a camera, and herself and find more. The ultimate moral affair of ‘to be or not to be,'' to just be seen by one, or to be something more than a photograph—to be art. The way Laura decides her subjects is experimental. There’s one universal truth when it comes to photography: for every one hundred pictures, there only has to be one.The one that forges emotion and creates a sense of identity for the viewer, for Laura. Laura rates her images from three to five to find the perfect shot. Three being just okay and five being the ‘wow factor,’ the undeniable burst of emotion to an aesthetically pleasing piece. Once this one-in-one-hundred photograph is found—this is when the magic happens. The connection between aesthetic and emotion are linked, thus leaving viewers with a strong connection to Laura’s pieces.
Part IV | Art of Nature
Simply, behind these perfect pictures is nature. Blue hour in particular is when Laura is most creative, when she can drop all pretenses of the modern world and see it for what the earth actually is: beautiful and awe-inducing. Just before dawn and dusk, when the sky is a vivid blue, and the sun slowly crosses the horizon—when the sun and moon meet, when the stars dim into blue nothingness. Laura finds the most success in her photographs during blue hour; the refraction of light through the leaves in a beautiful wood-scape or a beautiful black and white scenery with a million shades of gray between the latter. Laura captures the mood of a lake, the sorrow of an old tree, and the ecstatic stars dancing with one another. Being in the moment, feeling the same feelings as nature, the sweet nectar of life, is a big part of the art. Laura ensures everything is perfect, and she moves along with nature as she makes sure the camera angle does the landscape justice. But it’s more than just the landscape. Stillness, color, and contrast are of the utmost importance—it has everything to do with the person holding the camera. The state of being calm, at peace, and untroubled; this is what hooked Laura. The silence of nature, the water beating up onto the shore, leaves washing up onto one another on a branch, birds chirping love songs like a siren. Nature is everything. It’s a life outside of our own, a universal truth.
Black and White Collection
Part V | The Art of People
Photography, now and forever, will be her sanctuary, her serenity. Right now, Laura is not capturing urban settings or doing wedding photos. There's “too much anger about it all,” people always have their expectations, but the earth encourages you to use your own interpretation. Before Laura turned her photography into a business, she engaged in the theater as she approached motherhood. For decades Laura decided to put her child first, one who she needed to provide for—something the theater could not do. Instead of pursuing something farther in theater, Laura decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, but in a way, it was all the same. Both are the art of mastering people; understanding them at their innermost levels. This directly impacts Laura’s willingness to use people as her subjects in her photographs; there is no right or wrong way to capture the world around her. So every time Laura Higle looks at natural beauty, she stops in her tracks to capture the moment and thinks, “Earth, pass it on.”